Today is the anniversary of the birth of Imam Reza (Ali al-Reza), the eighth Imam of Shiites, and Iranians across the country celebrate it.
The holy shrine of the eighth Imam located in Mashhad is center of feasts with millions of Muslims from across the country and overseas paying pilgrimage visit to the shrine.
Based in Shiite ideology, Imam Reza was the seventh descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the eighth Imam of Shiites. He was born in Medina in the house of Imam Musa al-Kazim the 7th Shiites Imam. The mother of Ali al-Ridha was Najmah, who was considered to be the most notable and distinguished lady in the realm of wisdom and faith. Ali al-Reza’s education came at the hands of his father.
Fighting for control of the Abbasid Empire al-Ma’mun defeated his brother and named Ali al Reza his successor. He hoped to win Shiites support of Persia through this move, but the passage of caliphate would occur only if Reza outlived al-Ma’mun (as with all promises of succession). Al-Ma’mun even changed the black Abbasid flags to green, the traditional color of the house of Ali, the first Shiites imam.
He was martyred on August 23, 818, in Persia while accompanying al-Ma’mun at Tus, city. Disappointing of achieving his goals, Al-Ma’mun hatched a plot to assassinate Ali al Reza while he was 55, using poisonous food (grapes). Imam Reza is buried within Imam Ridha (Reza) Mosque, which is located in today’s Mashhad city of Iran.
Imam Reza’s holy shrine
Imam Reza’s holy shrine is the largest mosque in the world by dimension (total area of 598,657 m2) and the second largest one by capacity and lies close to the hearts of the country’s majority Shiite Muslim population. It contains 7 courtyards surrounding the mosque including 14 minarets, and 3 fountains.
The complex is a center of tourism in Iran today.